Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
So let me be clear on something before I start this review, I really enjoy Stephen King books. I have loved his books since a young age, one of his first books I read was the Shining. It horrified me and thrilled me all at the same time. I loved the Shining, and still enjoy rereading it now. But I was a bit disappointed with this book. It wasn't the phenomenal sequel to a phenomenal book. I feel like it was something he just kind of "threw together" because so many fans had been harassing him about it. He even acknowledges this in a way, when he thanks a die-hard fan for helping him quote "remember the little details of the Shining." Now I am sorry, but don't you think he would have just reread his own book if he forgot something? Maybe that's just me… So I can promise you that this review will not be the nicest I have written---- because I have such a high expectation for his books, I mean he wrote the Stand! I do however, still appreciate Stephen King and what he has done for horror. I will continue to read his books, but I may turn my attention back to his older novels. Anything pre-Cell lol...
Doctor Sleep is essentially a sequel to The Shining, following up on little Danny Torrance and his finger buddy Tony. There are several flashbacks to him at younger times throughout the book, but the main of it is about his adult life. Dan Torrance is a recovering alcoholic, something he picked up to help numb the shining. He learned long ago from Dick Hollaran how to control it mostly, but there are somethings you can never cover up. Because of this (or more likely, because of his drinking problem), he is a wanderer. Going from town to town, job to job, lasting only long enough for a few paychecks. Usually he is a nurse in a hospice or nursing home. He works well with people at the end of their lives, obviously due to his shining. He finds the small New Hampshire town, Frazier, and something inside him tells him to stay. Maybe its the miniature town and riding train set, adorably called Teenytown. Maybe its something else… But he stays, for some time, even giving up the booze monster and joining Alcoholics Anonymous. He gets a job at a hospice and soon becomes known as "Doctor Sleep" because he can help people pass on after death.
Meanwhile, another child is born with the shining, surprisingly (more "exposition-ally" if you ask me) in the same small town that Dan resides. Miss Abra Stone (yes that's her real name, you know like "Abra Cadabra?" Yeah lol) has an early sign of the shining as a baby. She predicts the 9/11 attacks by crying inconsolably during the whole incident, only stopping immediately after the second plane hits the World Trade Center. She then has a few more shining incidents as a young child from teleporting all the spoons on the ceiling during one of her birthday parties and writing her name telepathically on Dan's AA notebook. Basically enough weird stuff for her parents to consult their pediatrician about their daughter's "phenomena." Their wonderful pediatrician just happens to be an AA Member too and knows Dan. But that's of course not how they meet. They meet through the shining of course! But before we get to that, let me introduce you to our antagonist: the True Knot!
The True Knot is a group of half immortal creatures disguised as older RV people. The true definition of "knot" as it applies to RV's is a tight group of campers who travel as a community. So basically a traveling community, or gypsies. King made this sound like a commonly known thing, however I have been around RV's all my life and have never heard this term. Oh well… These people, these creatures actually feed off of kids with the shining. They torture them and drink their "steam?" I guess this describes their shining soul? I was pretty confused about that part. There are several mentions of different types of steam from the shining kids' steam, to the old people's red steam that Dan sees during his Doctor Sleep visits at the hospice, to Abra's grandmother's death steam that eventually did everyone in. He was inconsistent on this steam stuff, frankly I wished he would just stop trying to be unique and call it what it truly was: their souls. But this steam stuff, when it comes from a kid with the shining, is what keeps the True Knot alive and young. The longer they go without steam, the worse off for weather they are. Its a ridiculous vampire prospect, but it sure gets me riled up when I read about them tortured pre-teen kids and the whole kidnapping side of it. That's the age group I work with mostly, I think a lot of the kids that I work with are definitely unique and would hate to even think about anything happening to them or to my own children.
Wow, that took so long explaining just the setting, that I won't bother following up on it. If your interest is sparked, read the book. I read it and was quite disappointed. The True Knot attempts several times to abduct Abra, failing miserably each time. Dan and Abra become uncomfortably close friends, so close in fact that it made me, the reader, uncomfortable. But King dismisses all of that by revealing that Dan is a half-brother of Abra's mother, in essence her uncle. That Jack Nicholson sure got around, amazingly because of how much of a creep and drunk he was! But like they say, there's somebody for everybody! :P King ends the book so anti-climatically that I could spoil it all for you and it wouldn't even be a big deal. But I am a true book critic, so I will not do that to you readers. If you desire to read the book, please just promise me that you read the Shining first so that you aren't totally soured by the so-called series.
For the sake of the review, I will state who I feel I can most relate with, although personally I feel that the characters of the book were too unrealistic to be relatable at all. After all, Abra's own mother Lucy didn't even blink twice at leaving her only daughter alone with her father for half of the school year to tend to her own mother. She parades her relationship with her mother around many times throughout the book, so you would think that she would be just as connected with her own amazing daughter. But nope, no such luck. And Abra herself, seemed like such a fictional teenage girl. Having been a teenage girl before myself, I find some of her reactions unusual. But that's just me… As for Mister Dan, I feel like I cannot relate to him at all. Except for the fact that I loved little Danny Torrance, he was just obnoxious to me. But I do feel like I can relate to the feeling of feeling different. I feel different then most in a lot of social settings, as I bet most with the shining do. Not that I am saying I have the shining, but I definitely get how they feel like a complete different species then so-called "normal" people. But that's a mood disorder thing.
I would only recommend this book to any other critics. Those who cannot go without finishing a story or plot line, such as myself. If you feel like you HAVE to read this and HAVE to find out what happened to little Danny Torrance, then go ahead and read it. Just don't say I didn't warn you.
“Lots of people have got a little of what I call the shining, but mostly it's just a twinkle---the kind of thing that lets em know what the DJ's going to play next on the radio or that the phone's gonna ring pretty soon.”
My Next Book Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman
(I just keep picking winners lol! Not!)